My Thoughts On Playing 8th Edition Warhammer 40k

When the 8th edition launched, there was a lot of focus on the simpler rules, and the indexes put everyone on a level playing field.  Since then, however, the game has become much more complex, with the special rules introduced with new rules found in codexes, FAQs, Chapter Approved, and White Dwarf.  The various additional bonuses, psychic powers, army faction bonuses and stratagems all stack across different units, and it can be very difficult to actually work out what you actually need to do when playing a game.

I’m not a competitive player at all, but I do like to feel I’m at least playing the game right, so I wanted to put a sort of general crib sheet together so I cover the basics properly.  This certainly won’t work for everyone, and is aimed at friendly games, not tournament play.

Building a List

Pick the units you like, point them up, get onto the battlefield!  Huzzah!

That’s actually the core of how I put a list together, to be fair.  Sadly, though, you do need to think ahead a bit more on how the troops will work together on the battlefield, especially in the modern game.  A good example was the time I fielded my Imperial Guard army without a single officer to issue commands – and probably halved the effectiveness of the force at a stroke.  If you can’t issue orders to troops, Guard armies don’t work very well!

Every army (and faction within it), tends to have certain rules, bonuses and stratagems that augment certain troop types.  Picking an army without at least partially syncing up those augmentations seems to be punished brutally in the modern game – its no longer a slight edge, but the basis of standard lists, even for friendly games.

Have a think about what stratagems you actually remember to use.  If you are terrible at remembering to spend command points, look at ways of spending them pregame as part of your list – getting extra relics out onto characters, making units veterans, or merging units depending on your army.  That way you get the value of the command points without forgetting what you can do.  If there are stratagems that seem fun, pick units that work with it.  Build detachments partially on the units you like and how you want to play, but also to take command point generation more or less in mind.  Sometimes taking the same forces in a different formal detachment makes a big difference to the numbers of CP you get.

It basically boils down to one of the areas I’m weakest at – know the rules for your army as well as you can.

For me, I don’t like to carried away working how to exploit the rules to be filthy.  Working out ways of putting abilities and stratagems to pull something off that feels like its straight from a novel though?  Awesome.

Once you have a list put together, do you best to make sure the list is clear, accessible and easy to work with during the game.  A quick note of page numbers for more complex stuff can be invaluable, both for reference, and also to help make sure you have all the books you actually need.

Pregame

My cardinal rule here is just remember you are both here to have fun, and you’ll enjoy the game more if your opponent is having a cracking time too.  Don’t try to hide “gotcha” moments – run through your list with your opponent, explain any use of command points in building the list, and say how many you’ll be starting the game with.

Explain anything with optional rules – things like your faction special rules (like Guard Regiment bonuses, or Marine Chapter rules), agree whether to choose psychic powers or both pull them randomly.  Really make sure that anything not clearly WYSIWYG is explained to your opponent.

It leads to a much more enjoyable game for everyone than suddenly finding out that you aren’t fighting Ultramarine successors but Imperial Fists who are getting a completely different set of bonuses, or that a big beastie actually has a load of ranged weapons that aren’t on the model as you pour out of cover out of charge range.

Unless its a very regular opponent, I think a quick conversation about the style of game helps.  Are you being kind and allowing take backs or use of stratagems a little out of turn if they were forgotten?  Or are you sticking rigorously to the order of play?  Generally people are easy with either option, but its incredibly frustrating to allow your opponent to redo something, only to be told you can’t do the same.  It tends to come up more in multiplayer games – making sure everyone is on the same page really helps.

Setup and Turn 0

Its very easy to forget that your army isn’t just a generic force, but one that has specific requirements.  A small elite force generally wants to set up very differently to a big guard regiment.  Think through the games you’ve done well at, and think about the deployment options if you dice up for missions.  If I have a guard regiment fighting knights, I want to engage them at range.  Picking deployments that box in the hordes of troops, don’t leave me space to manoeuvre the tanks and block avenues of fire is going to cripple me – which is exactly what the knight general will do to you if he wins the deployment rolls.  If you haven’t even though about this and pick standard options, you can really hurt your own chances.  Make sure you have an idea for how you want to use reserves, and what you want to deploy, as that’ll affect these options too.

Turn 0, I hear you ask?  Well, there are increasing numbers of stratagems and special rules that happen after setup, but before turn 1 begins.  Have a crib sheet reminding you to use any of those special stratagems, as you won’t get a second chance!  And if you miss them and start the game frustrated?  You’ll enjoy it less and already be on the back foot.

Let the Games Begin

We’re now into the games proper!  There are several things I thoroughly recommend.

Make sure you have clear and obvious ways of tracking things like command points.  Dice or a tracking dial that you and your opponent can see helps.  Same for wound markers on minis – it really helps everyone keep track of the game.

Try to have a crib sheet of stratagems and powers, so you don’t forget what you could be doing each turn.  It also helps to note down ways of stacking them and ways not to use them.  If you have a captain letting you reroll 1s to hit, and a lieutenant giving you rerolls of 1 to wound, using a psychic power on the same unit to help them hit is probably redundant.  Break the notes down to when you can use each ability during a turn – don’t miss out on healing with your apothecary because you forget to use it at the end of the movement phase.

Most of all, you want to have fun.  Don’t try to “gotcha” the opponent with a surprise ability or an arsey interpretation of the rules as written.  Beat them with tactics, placement, planning your shooting and close combat, sure.  Pulling a “lol – I can actually setup here as its 9″ away straight up” just irritates.

If the game is a one sided slaughter, do you play to the end?  Well, there’s always a chance to turn it around, and if you can do so with grace, I highly recommend it.  If it just feels miserable, though, offer to call it.  If you aren’t enjoying the game at all, dragging it out can be awkward for everyone.   If you aren’t enjoying it, why play?  I quite enjoy the heroic last stand, myself, and if I’ve simply been outplayed or made mistakes I’ll regroup and fight to the end.  That’s not for everyone, and if you’re feeling you’re being beaten by rules rather than the player, it can feel terrible.

Also, take photos and post them up for people like me on twitter to see for vicarious gaming fun 😉

Finishing the Game

I love having a quick chat at the end of the game, make sure my opponent had fun too, and finding out what they liked, what they didn’t like, and so on.  If the game has swung into a thrashing, a quick chat at the end can help establish why, and perk up everyones mood.  Talk about the models that did well – I find allocating an MVP award to the best model or unit on both sides is interesting, as your perception and your opponents can differ radically.  It gives some real insight and really helps people improve their games.

Summary

If you’ve taken anything away from this, I hope its that we should be working out how to play a good fun game, not how to hammer your opponent by abusing the rules.  Knowing the rules, or having reminders, so you aren’t holding the game up and frustrating yourself helps the game flow better and be a more enjoyable experience.  Try to make sure you both have a fun game, and try to identify which bits were the most fun and what wasn’t as enjoyable for both of you.  Done right, every game of 40k against a regular opponent should be more and more entertaining for everyone.

#ParentPlayers 6!!!

What is Parent Players?

Parent Players is a semi-regular meet-up with a group of wargamers who all have children and don’t often get to game. We plan the events months in advance so we can arrange childcare and make sure it’s in family diaries, and hope no emergencies, illness or accidents intervene!

As we’re all parents, we all are in the same boat, and it’s nice to play some really relaxed games and have a few beers with people who enjoy your hobby, understand the pressures you’re under, and are pretty relaxed about the fact you haven’t played a game in months and keep remembering the rules from 2 editions ago.

Most of the focus is on GW games, predominantly 40K. We meet up in Warhammer World in Nottingham on a Friday, play big games all day, retire to a nearby hotel where we get a few more beers in and play games like Fluxx, Coup, or Munchkin in the bar. The Saturday tends to be smaller games in Bugmans as it can be hard to get tables if an event is on, and some of us may be a little worse for wear…. (Just to be clear, beers are optional and several of the regulars are teetotal. Playing silly games is the important bit!)

Tables are harder to arrange since the events team stopped taking bookings, so it’s particularly hard to guarantee availability on the Saturday.  Several of us live close enough to be able to pretty much guarantee a decent spread of tables on the Friday at opening time.   It looks like there’s a Blood Bowl event on the Saturday. We’ve have J’Mgan Bridge – the largest table they have – for a big game on the friday, and their standard tables are easy to grab that day.  On the Saturday we have 3 standard tables reserved, even with the tournament on, and I suspect a fair chunk of fun games will be happening in Bugmans too!

When is the next Parent Players?

The sixth Parent Players is on Friday 6 and Saturday 7th September 2019

What do you need?

Well, to play, you’ll need the latest rules and a force for the game. We’re definitely expecting Warhammer 40K, Blackstone Fortress (with TheFirstAutarch’s gorgeous set) Bloodbowl and Shadespire to be on the agenda – if you don’t have a force for any game you’d like to play, it’s not too hard to arrange to borrow one from one of the other people attending, but you need to arrange it in advance to ensure it’s there on the day. For 40K, we tend to play fairly fluffy 1750pts lists (but bring along 1000pts and 2000pts variants for some multiplayer shenanigans ).  If you can’t field a 40k army but want to try, a lot of us have been in the hobby for some time and can probably bring a spare … though it isn’t necessarily going to full of the latest models. Bloodbowl tends to be standard starter teams of 1,000,000 crowns, and Shadespire is generally standard gang starter decks.

You’ll also need transport to Warhammer World, and somewhere to stay. We generally stay in the Holiday Inn near Warhammer World and several people have already booked rooms. Its certainly not compulsory to stay in the hotel if you want to arrange somewhere else, but we do have some cracking games.

It’s a pretty laid back event – some of us make up our own t-shirts to match our armies with our names and twitter handles, but again, that’s really not necessary.

How do I stay in touch?

We all can be found on twitter. I’m evilkipper and seem to be co-ordinating it at the moment, but the whole thing was the devious concept of thefirstautarch. Other regular attendees include oneoflots, avarrisxbox, grimdarkness40, bigbadbirch and alphadevilinak as well as horde of possible attendees who haven’t been able to escape the kids!

Say hi to any of us, and we’ll keep you in the loop on twitter with all the updates.

#ParentPlayers5

What is Parent Players?

Parent Players is a semi-regular meet-up with a group of wargamers who all have children and don’t often get to game. We plan the events months in advance so we can arrange childcare and make sure it’s in family diaries, and hope no emergencies, illness or accidents intervene!

As we’re all parents, we all are in the same boat, and it’s nice to play some really relaxed games and have a few beers with people who enjoy your hobby, understand the pressures you’re under, and are pretty relaxed about the fact you haven’t played a game in months and keep remembering the rules from 2 editions ago.

Most of the focus is on GW games, predominantly 40K. We meet up in Warhammer World in Nottingham on a Friday, play big games all day, retire to a nearby hotel where we get a few more beers in and play games like Fluxx in the bar. The Saturday tends to be smaller games in Bugmans as it can be hard to get tables if an event is on, and some of us may be a little worse for wear…. (Just to be clear, beers are optional and several of the regulars are teetotal. Playing silly games is the important bit!)

Tables are harder to arrange, but can be booked in advance if we know how many people are definitely coming.  The Fridays are normally pretty easy to grab tables, but Saturday has an AoS event on, so if we don’t have a table we’ll be playing small games in the bar.

When is the next Parent Players?

The fifth Parent Players is on Friday 21 and Saturday 22 June 2019

What do you need?

Well, to play, you’ll need the latest rules and a force for the game. We’re definitely expecting Warhammer 40K, and Bloodbowl to be on the agenda – if you don’t have a force for any game you’d like to play, it’s not too hard to arrange to borrow one from one of the other people attending, but you need to arrange it in advance to ensure it’s there on the day. For 40K, we tend to play fairly fluffy 1750pts lists (though we’re going to use the Chapter Approved rules and turn our warlords into Legendary Heroes). Bloodbowl tends to be standard starter teams of 1,000,000 crowns, and Shadespire is generally standard gang starter decks.

You’ll also need transport to Warhammer World, and somewhere to stay. We generally stay in the Holiday Inn near Warhammer World and several people have already booked rooms. Its certainly not compulsory to stay in the hotel if you want to arrange somewhere else, but we do have some cracking games – this meet up I’m expecting some Munchkin 40K and various editions of Fluxx to be pulled out.

It’s a pretty laid back event – some of us make up our own t-shirts to match our armies with our names and twitter handles, but again, that’s really not necessary.

How do I stay in touch?

We all can be found on twitter. I’m evilkipper and seem to be co-ordinating it at the moment, but the whole thing was the devious concept of thefirstautarch. Other regular attendees include oneoflots, avarrisxbox, grimdarkness40, bigbadbirch and alphadevilinak as well as horde of possible attendees who haven’t been able to escape the kids!

Say hi to any of us, and we’ll keep you in the loop on twitter with all the updates.

Play it Painted?

I was having a discussion on twitter (that immediately got derailed) about what sort of painting projects can be fun, and I suggested painting up board games like Hellboy or Dungeon Saga, as board games stand in isolation.  No one expects the game pieces to be painted so its a nice stress free distraction, but armies for Warhammer 40K?  There’s a definite expectation that armies should be painted or at least will be painted over time, and that can sometime make it feel like work – I have to get this painted or I can’t field it.

Someone bounced into the conversation to say that thats not true.  GW don’t have any such barriers up, if you want to play with unpainted pieces you can, and any pressure is just from a few individuals in the community.  I’m afraid I can’t agree.

Now, I’m not saying that shouldn’t be the case!  I’ll happily play anyone if I think I’ll have a fun game.  But the hobby is definitely based around the concept of playing with painted armies.  Many people will flat out refuse to play unpainted armies.  Some stores won’t allow less than a three colour minimum.  Warhammer World events have a fairly stringent set of requirements that involve no bits from other manufacturers, fully painted, and these events are described as the “pinnacle of the hobby” by Warhammer World – which clearly indicates the aspirational goal for people in the GW community.  On twitter, you’ll regularly see campaigns to “#PlayItPainted”.  There’s a meme stratagem aimed at unpainted models that floats around featuring the face of GW painting, Duncan Rhodes.  Whether or not its right, playing with painted armies is expected in tournaments, in many stores, and by many players and the wider community.  Saying “you can play how you like” doesn’t help if opponents walk away and you can’t take part in events.

If you just want to play at home against a mate, you can do what you like.  If you want to buy into the wider community, you do have to go along with the general community rules, and at the moment, that would seem to be painted armies, or at least working towards that goal.

I rarely play, and paint far more.  I love painting.  But at the moment, things are stacked against those who don’t like painting but love the game, short of throwing money at commission painters.

And is the pressure to be at least moving towards painted minis bad?  Its a far more absorbing experience for me, and anecdotally many others when all the models are clearly identified in glorious colours instead of sprue grey where you can’t identify the weapons or gear easily.

Is there a good answer?  Introduce gaming tournaments where all that matters are results?  Deprecate the painting part of the hobby to make it more about the game?  There isn’t a perfect solution.

All I can do is enjoy painting my minis, and be willing to have a fun game whenever I can, regardless of how painted the opposition is.

Should GW add women to Space Marines?

There has been a lot of argument on Twitter on this topic for a while, so I thought I’d go through what I see as the pros and cons of both sides of the argument.

I say both sides, but this is actually a three sided argument!  There is one argument for introducing female space marines as if they’ve always been there, an argument to keep everything exactly as it is, and a third stance saying “why not kept the history as is, but introduce female space marines as a new option like the Primaris Marines were recently introduced?”

Now, if you look at the models purely as game pieces, it’s just ludicrous to have the primary faction in a game designed in 2019, often included as both sides (with Chaos Marines having the same issue) of the main starter sets being gender exclusive.  Of course, the game was designed in the 1980s, not 2019, and culturally there was a much bigger divide in hobbies than here is today.  2000AD simply introduced lady judges as if they had always been a part of Judge Dredd, and that was successful in a similar cultural icon.  Why couldn’t that work here?  They’ve thrown the history out repeatedly for other changes like dropping Squats and rebuilding the entire Necron history.  Why not here?

Well, one reason is that the background back then specifically excluded the possibility of female space marines, and that takes us into the opposing position – that 30 years of shared fictional history including hundreds of published stories as well as 30 years of rule books and army codexes have given us a shared universe we all enjoy, so why change it?  Why throw out all those books and novels and shared enjoyment when we could simply release more models in other lines and make that there are options for women to play and feel accessible – the new launch of the Sisters of Battle line is often a key part of this counterpoint, as it involves a line of models that are just women.

The intermediate stance is simply that we could look at a compromise position – keep the history as is, but evolve the ongoing storyline.  Introduce women into the ranks of marines as the new discoveries that allowed the creation of the next generation of marines also allow the genetic enhancements to work with both sexes.  It’s an easy, simple fix, and would allow reasonable people on all sides to come together.  If you don’t like them, you could still build male marine chapters, or others could build all women chapters.  

Some point to the satirical background of Warhammer 40K, and highlight the fact that Space Marines aren’t supposed to be aspirational or inclusive.  They are, in fact, pretty much the extreme example of what is often referred to as toxic masculinity- exemplifying intolerance, and violence as a preferred solution.  There’s certainly some truth to this viewpoint, I think, but the parodic  and satirical nature of 40K has been somewhat lost under a more traditional sci-fi overlay over the years – I’m not sure it’s as obvious to people joining the hobby now as it was in the Rogue Trader days.

i think it’s easy as people argue abstract positions to ignore the fact that honestly there are a lot of people in the hobby that are bigoted and would keep women out if they could.  Latching onto excuses like the shared history allow them to avoid appearing prejudiced, but honestly?  Sometimes people are.  It’s very important not to tar everyone with that brush, but it’s also important that the industry leader in the wargaming field do what it can to be available to everyone.

The biggest problem, really, is that the lore and in game history about Space Marines is, in this instance, bloody terrible.  The entire argument basically goes “We can re-engineer men from the basic genetic code up to be immortal Demi-gods of War, but we can’t do the same for women, because they are girls.”

There are so many strong stories one way or another.  Buy fully into the despotic, terrible universe, and cast the Emperor as a utter sexist bastard who wouldn’t sort it out because he felt girls shouldn’t go to war.  Go Jurassic Park, and have life find a way in the early tests on women – and a fully viable immortal replacement species for humanity was exactly what the Emperor wanted to avoid as he wants humanity to thrive, not perish.  Have the move as part of the Emperor’s prescient design as systematically culling the genes for successful  Astartes  leads to the psychically immune blanks rising in replacement and saving all humanity.  Maybe his second wave of design was a set of female primarchs and their Astartes children, and that fell apart because of the Heresy.

But saying “no, we can’t get it working for girls” is shockingly weak story telling at best.  It sounds more impressive if you say “The lore doesn’t allow for them”, but really?

I’ve been playing 40k since it launched.  I enjoy the shared history and background, and would prefer major changes to be in the way the story moves forward than throwing all the history out.  I could cope with the monastic male warrior tradition if the story is fleshed out with something convincing (and better representation continues elsewhere), or women joining the ranks as new Primaris marines too.  But there are three main things I’d really like to see – people on one side of the argument not accusing everyone else of being misogynistic bastards, people on the other side not shouting about SJWs and virtue signalling, and some damn decent story underlying the move forward, whatever route that takes.

EDIT – Just some additional notes.  I mentioned a few reasons that would be much stronger to explain the lack of female space marines from a story telling perspective, but they don’t really work if introduced now (unless you introduce a new faction of some kind to explore it as well as a Black Library series).  Adding a better excuse 30 years later is definitely a cop out – if there was a solid story reason already in place I’d be more inclined to accept the cries of “but the lore”.

I’d also like to quickly address the other argument – that there already exists an all women army in the game with Sisters of Battle, so its all fair.  I have some sympathy with this view point, mostly because I love Sisters of Battle and am very excited for the new release, and I’d love for the sheer scope of the Sisters to be raised to the same profile as Space Marines.  However, arguing its all fair because there are some female factions is a bit specious.  Why?  Because first, the Sisters of Battle aren’t an all woman faction at all.  You can field male priests (that outrank the sisters), male crusaders, male arco-flagellants, male penitent engines in the same list.  It’d be like having the option in the marine list to field women representatives of the High Council that all marines have to answer to, having dreadnaughts not containing marine heroes but male or female guard heroes, and turning the victrix guard into cool lady knights guarding the top bods.  Now, that actually sounds pretty awesome, to be fair, but it isn’t the case.

In addition, while Space Marines are the flagship force, with Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Space Wolves, General Marines, Chaos Marines, Thousand Sons and Death Guard all representing with their own lists, there have been long periods of time with no Sisters of Battle Codex at all, no minis in the shops, only 20 year old + sculpts available online at incredibly high prices (£50 a basic squad as compared to £20.50 for a metal guard squad, for example).  Its not exactly two high profile, easily available forces with Sisters and Marines jostling for place in the starter sets.

What of Sisters of Silence, introduced at the same time as Custodes?  We still have almost no Sisters of Silence available, and a pretty big old range of Custodes introduced already.  Again, its not really a great argument to point to a token box and say, look, it must be OK, there are a few ladies in a different list.

While Space Marines are the primary force sold in the game, with no solid reason not to add women to their ranks given the recent introduction of changes with Primaris Marines, we’ll hear continuing calls to make the entry armies more accessible to everyone, and I think rightly so.

Sisters of Battle – Finishing an Era

Well, with two Sisters of Battle armies, and the ranges due for an update, it’s time to finish off the armies for good before starting anew.

Order of the Argent Shroud

I need to paint up:

2 Geminae to guard Celestine for the Order of the Argent Shroud.   I have some Seraphim, but they need to be converted with power swords and bolt pistols.

An Immolator – this needs to be bought, assembled and painted.

An Exorcist – this needs to be bought, assembled and painted.

3 Rhinos – these need to be bought, assembled and painted (or resprayed from previous projects)

Order of the Verdant Garden

2 Geminae to guard Celestine for the Order of the Verdant Garden.   I have some Seraphim, but they need to be converted with power swords and bolt pistols.

1 Canoness – I’d messed up one of the 2 metal canonesses, and its been stripped for repainting.

1 Seraphim – I lost one of my 10 woman squad some time ago, and need to replace her.

3 Repentia – I’ve generally been fielding them in a squad of 6, and never finished the last 3.  I need to finish these off.

1 Meltagun sister – I need this to finish off my white battle sisters squad.

1 Exorcist – I have a silver FW exorcist that I want to repaint for the green sisters, and replace it with a GW exorcist for the more classic Argent Shroud contingent.

1 Sisters Rhino – I have 2 rhinos and 2 immolators, but the last battle sisters squad could do with a transport. 

2 Immolator turret fixes – the two immolators I have were broken in an accident and sort of patched in the turrets.  With the Rhinos needed for the sisters, buying Immolators and using the turrets to fix these and then being able to use the rhinos with sisters icons rather than plain seems to make sense.  This is a bonus extra, though – the patch job isn’t terrible.

Bonus extras

With the range as a whole likely to be taken off the market, it’d be nice to add one or two of the missing models as well.  I think they’d be fantastic with Rogue Trader or Inquistorial warbands too.

Death Cult Assassins – at least 2, maybe a unit of 6

Crusaders – at least 2, maybe a unit of 6

Preacher with Chainsword

Missionary with Chainsword

Penitent Engines – at least 1, maybe a unit of 3.

As a final bonus extra, I could paint up a Canoness Veridyan in Silver and Green to add to each force.  I don’t need to, but I have the models and it’d be a nice touch.

Preparing for the Future

I need to paint up the new Celestine and Geminae for the new army, and Canoness Veridyan

Hobby Plans for 2019

Well, as we’re two weeks into 2019, I suppose I really should start doing some kind of planning!

First, I really want to track my work, as though I lost track towards the end of 2018, logging my painting made a big difference in getting things done.  I’m going to take part in #painthammer2019 – you can find loads of details over on JewelKnightJess‘s blog Silent Dream.

Second, as a rough target for the year, I’m going to aim for 100 painted minis.  I think thats achievable, and should keep me pushing and painting hard enough to get it done.

Third, I want to “finish off” my Sisters of Battle armies, which are coming up for a major relaunch.  I have two armies, one in green (the Order of the Verdant Garden) and one in silver (the Order of the Argent Shroud).  Both need some reworking for the 8th edition beta codex, and both need some key models painted for a “complete” force of around 2000pts.  Things like a couple of Gemina Superior to protect Celestine, finish off any odd or missing people from complete units, do extra Rhinos for the various squads, add an Exorcist to the Silver Sisters, and so on.  It’s not trivial amounts, but not impossible amounts either.

Fourth, I want to start a new Sisters of Battle army in the traditional Black and Red when the new army is released in plastic.  I can make a start on this with Celestine and the Geminae from the Triumvirate set, and a Canoness Veridyan.  Fingers are crossed for an all plastic exorcist and a Sisters flyer of some kind.

Fifth, I want to try and keep on top of Warhammer Conquest.  I’ve done a rubbish job so far, and its rather starting to build up, especially as I’ve built my Dark Imperium set alongside it and picked up a few extra copies of some of the issues, as well as kitbashed some primaris, and added a chaplain and a box each of intercessors, reivers and plague marines to the mix too.

Sixth, 2019 is going to be the year of the terrain for me!  With RubbleCity and a Suluco (think space hulk tiles in Resin) due from Fenris Games this year, and with terrain coming in from Warhammer Conquest and from my Shadow War and Kill Team starter sets, plus a _lot_ of old Sector Imperialis buildings that need gluing back together after a move, I should have enough terrain to run my own club!

Seventh, I want to paint up one or two Blood Bowl teams, like the new Dark Elves and my cracking Iron Golems set of Halflings.

Eighth, I want to cherry pick the odd fantasy mini to paint for fun, so I don’t get stuck grinding on tasks for the hell of it, so I’m staying subscribed to my monthly bones pack.  I won’t get them all painted, but it’ll be fun.

Ninth, and this is unlikely, but I would like to also pick one of my board games like Zombicide, Dungeon Saga, Imperial Assault, Blackstone Fortress or Star Saga, and get at least the basic starter minis (or alternatives done).  Completing all the minis I have for one game would just be amazing.

Tenth, I want to make it to at least 2 Parent Players events this year, as they are just mind-blowing fun.

Eleventh, I’m in a Blood Bowl league online!  Hopefully it’ll be really fun, and I can make time for it!  Some cracking people in the league.

There are many more possibilities and projects on hold if I blow through these like some kind of hobby demon, but it’s pretty unlikely.  Time just isn’t going to permit it, I think.

Model Releases, Rules and Limitations for GW with 8th Ed

This is a response to a common question, particularly from veterans of early editions:

“Why don’t we have XYZ option in the rules right now?”

Examples of this include Blood Angel Primaris having Chainswords as an option, while normal marines or dark angels don’t, for example.  Why aren’t the rules the same for the basic units?

Now, I’m not a lawyer at all, but in my understanding it comes down to a legal decision in the states when a more litigious GW went into conflict with Chapterhouse Studios a few years ago over some of the additional models and conversion packs they were producing.  The decisions were pretty mixed, and no one came away happy, but one point did come out:

If you have rules in a game and don’t actively sell the parts or models for those rules, it is legitimate in the US for third parties to produce their own version.

So if they released rules for all Intercessor Sergeants to have chainswords, and only had chainswords for Blood Angels in the Blood Angels Primaris upgrade packs, it might be legal (I’m staying well clear of morality here) for another company to actively produce and market chainswords for the other chapters.  It might even be OK to produce Primaris Sergeants with Chainswords.  And if that happened before GW released them, there are all sorts of issues.

Essentially, it means that GW are in a position where they literally cannot provide rules for conversions unless they also produce the models without opening the door to alternative manufacturers in the US.  That’s just the way it is.  It’s one of the main reasons that the current codexes have entries exactly matching the single weapon load outs of the manufactured models.

Its also why they release new data sheets with new models, rather than putting all the rules in a new codex months before models arrive, and why we don’t see any named characters without a specific matching model.

Its also why a token selection of Sisters of Battle have been kept up on the site in metal for years – if they don’t have them on sale at all, others could potentially actively start to sell and market Adeptus Sororitas minis.  Actually as Sisters of Battle.

At most, you can complain a little as to why a specific load out hasn’t been chosen and released yet, but differences between ranges and codexes have to match the produced models.  It’s just the legalities of the marketplace. 

One interesting note on this – by providing the legends rules for AoS and one last made to order sale of the classic model before closing down the moulds, they may be opening up the production of some of the classic characters to third parties for those wanting to play narrative games at home too.  It’s a brave move with valuable classic IP, and fantastic for the community, so kudos!

Supercharging Primaris 101 – Understand your units

Now, some people may well disagree with this, but I think the best place to start when looking at maxing out your army effectiveness is the core units.  Forget the shenanigans for now – there’s no point looking at the best ways to interact units and powers unless you understand the units and abilities to begin with!

We also want to look at their battlefield role and how you might like to use them.  There are certainly some surprises in there.

Before we get onto specifics, lets discuss some of the common points that will affect most of the army.

First, we are looking at a proper Primaris based force, not a full Astartes force. We aren’t going to look at vehicles or units that don’t have the Primaris keyword.  That’s quite a handicap – cheap troops units like scouts are really useful in the current edition, and the range of vehicles and artillery are effectively restricted to the Repulsor – a fantastic but expensive tank.  Without any real dedicated transports, troops will be exposed out of cover – minimising battleshock and maximising armour saves are going to be pretty important.  It also restricts the usefulness of many of the stratagems that tie to specific units, like the classic whirlwind/land speeder pairing.

Primaris are tough, generally with 2 wounds, but still only normally have the 3+ save, and are particularly vulnerable to heavier weapons like plasma weaponry, or mass fire if caught in the open.  With a move of 6″, they aren’t going to break any records in advancing, so options for deep striking or repositioning will add a lot of value.

As troops excel at taking and holding objectives for battle forged armies, we need to weigh up the additional advantage taking troops.  If you generally play annihilation games, where the goal is defeating your enemy rather than by objective, troops are less important and may not be as good value for the points.

With “And They Shall Know No Fear” allowing morale rerolls, battleshock isn’t a major concern like it can be for other armies .  Larger units of 10 are quite practical, especially with the option to split fire in 8th, and can significantly help in close combat.  Mind you, smaller units let you take more of the special options like sergeants and grenade launchers, and can all get into the same tanks, so its tricky!  Hopefully we’ll get more of a grip on unit size later on.

Just one note – this is my take from a  quick study of the codex.  Is it right?  No idea for sure!  There may be codex approved changes I’ve missed, or seemingly unimportant upgrades that revolutionise a unit.  Do tell me in the comments and I’ll update this!

This particular review is only covering Games Workshop units, not FW ones, though there are some key Primaris associated units found there, like a superheavy tank.  I may cover those later!

HQ

Captain (standard Mk 10 armour)

The Primaris Captain is a mid tier Primaris hero, and its easy to spend points on wargear.   They are excellent close combat fighters – at range they are great shots but don’t really have any more long range firepower than an intercessor.

They let nearby units reroll hit rolls of 1 – that’s fantastic, as it affects the most possible rolls, and ensure a second chance to over overcharged plasma weapons exploding.

They can swap their bolt rifle for stalker bolt rifle, which is well worth it if lurking in the backfield to strengthen a gun line.  They can also take an optional power sword to max out their excellent close combat skills.  Taking both probably isn’t worth it, as if you have gone for long range maximisation, you won’t get full value of a power sword over the battle.

Their iron halo, giving them a solid 4+ invulnerable save, combined with 6 wounds makes them a durable bet.

Captain (Gravis armour)

This Primaris Captain is all in for assault. With a Pistol 3 weapon, they get 3 shots a turn even when locked up, and get the choice between a clumsier gauntlet or a power sword for their hits.  All their other abilities are pretty much the same as a normal Captain, but with offence limited to short range and maximised for pure close combat, you really need to commit to an aggressive play style.   With the pistol, all the ranged weaponry is focused on killing infantry – you need to kill anything tougher up close and personal.

Captain (Power fist)

This captain is awesomely optimised for damage at short range.  A plasma pistol combined with their ability to reroll 1s is fantastic, and the power fist and their 2+ to hit in close combat is also brilliant.  While still focussed on close range, this particular option is maximised for those who love plasma, or are fighting mechanised or high toughness elite troops.

Lieutenant

The lieutenant is the cheapest Primaris hero, though only just shy of the standard Captain, and its easy to spend points on wargear.  If you are tight on points and need HQ to fill out detachments, this may be a useful choice.  They are excellent close combat fighters – at range, like the captain, they are great shots but don’t really have any more long range firepower than an intercessor.

They let nearby units reroll wound rolls of 1 – that’s not as good as rerolling 1s to hit, like the captain, as it doesn’t help with plasma explosions, and it also affects less rolls on average, as any missed rolls to hit obviously reduce the dice pool that might come up as 1s.

They can swap their bolt rifle for stalker bolt rifle, which is well worth it if lurking in the backfield to strengthen a gun line, or for a powersword to max out their excellent close combat skills.

The only solid reason I can see (beyond needing cheap HQ) to pick a lieutenant is to pair him with a captain, giving nearby units and themselves rerolls on 1s for both hit and wound.  The lack of an iron halo makes them quite vulnerable to enemy headhunters otherwise.

Librarian

The librarian is an excellent close up fighter with a force weapon, provides psychic defence by denying the witch with their psychic hood, and also allows all sorts of psychic shenanigans to be layered in with other abilities.

You need to be careful due to their lack of invulnerable saving throws, but at least one librarian seems to be a solid bet, regardless of your play style.  Unless you go all in with Black Templar philosophy, of course!

With the short range of many psychic powers, the lack of ranged weaponry, and their close combat abilities, you really need to embrace the assault phase to really get the best of librarians.  If you want to play a more measured gun line approach, you may not find they add as much value.

Chaplain

Between boosting morale, a 4+ invulnerable save, amazing close combat skills and allowing nearby units to reroll all failed hit rolls in close combat, this guy is fantastic if you want someone to lead a charge.  Clocking in at 5 points under a  basic captain, they are at least as useful on the advance in combat with the crozius arcanum giving them +1S, -1AP and 2 damage.

On the flip side, these guys are almost useless on the defense with no firepower greater than a pistol, no bonuses to nearby units (except morale, which isn’t that important to Primaris) outside of combat.  If you take a chaplain, you need an aggressive play style to get value out of them.

Troops

Intercessors

Intercessors are the only troop option available to a Primaris force.  If you are playing an objective game, or looking at building battalions aiming at the +5cp to fuel stratagems, you’ll need some of these.

They have 3 choice of weapons – standard bolt rifles, which aren’t bad rapid fire weapons with a 30″ range, Auto bolt rifles, which as 24″ assault 2 weapons are fantastic for fire and move work, or stalker bolt rifles, which are heavy 1 weapons, but give you -2 ap and a 36″ range.  Honestly, unless you want a cheap filler unit (and if that’s the case, why are you looking at elite Primaris), it feels like you want stalkers for a gun line or backfield objective holding, and auto bolt rifles for a mobile unit hurtling around the battlefield.

One interesting upgrade is the auxiliary grenade launcher – you can take 2 of these per unit, which is only useful if you combat squad it.  It effectively gives you a mini missile launcher, with a 30″ range frag or krak grenade for 1pt – 2pts to take one in both combat squads.  This seems a no brainer!

Elites

Apothecaries

Damn, the apothecary is awesome.  Between resurrecting troops or healing heroes, he also totally beats face in close combat, with some awesome close range pistols and a great stat line.  I can see the apothecary being awesome to bolster a close combat captain/lieutenant pair.  Bonuses to hit and wound combined with healing?  Primaris smash!  Is he worth the points?  I’ not sure.  I think kept near a key unit or playing aggressively to get a return in close combat would pay off, but he isn’t cheap and not throwing out anything at range.

Ancient

An ancient (or standard bearer) basically increases the leadership of nearby units, which improves their chances of not losing any models to battle shock.  With “And They Shall Know No Fear” already in effect for Primaris, its not really all that helpful, unless taking big old units.  The 50% chance of getting a last shot or attack in for fallen models is pretty good, but only when the ancient is surrounded by casualties!  

Its a great concept and very cinematic – from a narrative perspective I’d always want to take one.  Effectiveness wise, though?  Maybe if combined with hell blasters in a gun line?  Honestly, I think you can probably do better for the points just by taking small units or going for an apothecary to get models back into action long term.

Reivers

Reivers feel like a fantastic concept, but the various options they offer just don’t seem to tie together very well.  Shock grenades stopping overwatch?  That’s fantastic – except with a 6″ move and 6″ range, you have to start within 12″ of the enemy to be able to actually pull this off.  Which generally means you’ve just been shot to hell (or maybe, if lucky, had an enemy fail a charge).  Reducing enemy leadership in 3″ is fantastic for causing morale issues, but its too short a range to help for anything beyond a heaving melee, and people are quite savvy at minimising battleshock effects.  Grapnel launchers let you ignore vertical components of movement and spiderman up to the top of buildings.  That could really add value on specific levelled terrain, but at lot of the time won’t be any use.  They also let you come in 9″ away from the enemy at deployment from any table edge, but they aren’t that scary a unit to derail an advance.  Grav chutes let you deep strike from turn 2 – but again that 9″ range and the 6″ range on shock grenades doesn’t quite gel.

If you are a great player, you can probably maximise these brilliantly.  Otherwise I feel you’ll have a unit that will have a monster game if things break for them, but generally won’t perform at all.  Play on a table with grapnel launchers and lots of buildings, and have a couple of charges against you fail, and they will be AMAZING.  Play on a flat table with a canny enemy and I think you’ll struggle a bit.

Redemptor Dreadnaught

Dreadnaughts!  This is the new dreadnaught introduced with the Primaris marines, and generally accepted as part of the Primaris line.  Dreadnoughts are much tougher in 8th edition than they used to be, and the range of fire power you can load them up with is pretty huge.  Up close, at range, they are monsters.  I might be wrong, but I feel maximising their load out for anti horde firepower is probably your best bet, with the onslaught gatling cannons chucking out silly amounts of reasonable firepower that will just clear out any big tarpit units.  

However, they will draw fire like mad, and performance will degrade as they take hits.  They aren’t cheap in terms of points, and as fire magnets, you have to accept you might not get your points back from them – but other, more vulnerable units are going to get away with much lighter fire.

Aggressors

Holy hell, these guys are awesome.  While they could really do with the ability to absorb more firepower, like a 2+ save or something, they are pretty resilient with the +1T from the gravis armour,  and laden down with firepower.  With two main load outs of either multiple 8″ flamers, or frag launchers and boltstorm gauntlets, you have a really nasty array of firepower in a not too expensive package.  I’ve heard more than one primaris player suggest building your army around these and hellblasters for really nasty doses of firepower.  Are they resilient enough to get up close to use their firepower?  I think you really need to weigh up your play style with aggressors, as though they look like excellent fun, they are something of a glass hammer, and I think you need to commit to an aggressive approach to get the most out of them.  Between close range firepower, no penalty on advancing and shooting their assault weapons,  and power fist smashing in close combat, they are fast, lethal and deadly.  But leave them exposed and they’ll go down just as fast as any other Primaris.

Heavy Support

Hellblasters

Oh, yeah!  Hellblasters!  An entire unit loaded down with Plasma Weaponry.  Now, I have to admit, I tend to overcharge EVERYTHING, so this may be my achilles heel, but keep a captain nearby to reroll ones, and these bad boys might just decimate everything!

5-10 plasma guns with rapid fire? Yes!  Oh Yes!  I’m tempted to look at spearhead detachments and just load up with these.  They won’t be quite as good as troops at taking objectives, but in terms of dishing out firepower they’ll be just awesome!

Fast Attack

Inceptors

A lot of people struggle with these, but I think they could work for me.  Why?  Because most people see them as the Primaris equivalent to Assault Marines, but they really aren’t.  My read on them is that they are a fast moving weapons platform, much closer in play style to Sisters of Battle Seraphim … which I love and play well.  The key is to use them for ambush strategies, hit and run techniques, while avoiding actual close combat where you can.  If you get stuck up close, the lack of proper close combat equipment will cost you dearly, I think.  My experience with Seraphim will help, but I think these could be a lot more effective if people just didn’t play them like assault marines.  Got higher hopes than expected from studying the data sheet.

Dedicated Transport

Repulsor

Repulsors are the only vehicle currently able to transport Primaris marines, and have a variety of load outs.  Its a big scary tank.  Its going to draw fire, so you have to accept it’s going to take some hits.  One obvious thought is that will spare others, even a Redemptor dreadnaught.   It can carry a fair chunk of weaponry, or maybe carry a brutal setup of aggressors with a couple of HQ for a lethal close range boost.

I think with so many points tied up in the one model, you have to have a solid plan for using it.  Maybe its delivering a brutal CC detachment right into enemy lines, allowing your Redemptor to get a turn or two untargeted, or simply as a turn 1 tank killer, but you really need to work out how to play around it.  One oddity is that a lot of the heavy weapon options are much more short ranged, like lastalons are much shorter ranged than equivalent las-cannons.  Again, I think it lends itself to the feel of Primaris as an aggressive short range army.

Lord of War

Roboute Guilleman

Roboute is frankly amazing, optimising nearby troops to perform like absolute monsters, while having the equipment and statistics to smash some serious opposition himself.  He optimises Imperium troops, not just Astartes, so its extra value in an Imperium soup force … though we’re staying clear of those.  He’s a heck of a lot of points, but will massive optimise your army.  The bigger the game, the easier it is to fit this monster in.  I think the only fault I’d have with including him is that I’m not 100% sure he counts as Primaris being a Primarch 🙂  It seems only fair as he had them invented, and the Death Guard that I’m also looking at get Morty though!

To get the most out of Roboute, you need him to tackle hotspots while he abilities optimise the troops in you lines most in need of success.  having them get full Rerolls to hit and wound and buying you additional CPs for stratagems really should help with some nasty shenanigans.

Fallen Angels (#ParentPlayers)

Well, the first post on my army for the Parent Players meet up in April!  Its not very exciting, as it mostly covers initial research on colour choices and army contents instead of finished models or funky new techniques in progress.

At the moment, the plan is:

  1. Undercoat with Chaos Black spray.
  2. Basecoat with a dark red for insignia, gun metal (or leadbelcher) for all weapons, armour, pipes, bone for all odd bits like horns, tusks, skulls, Grey for robes, Stirling Battlemire on bases.
  3. Edge Highlight the black with light grey.  highlight red with vivid red, highlight leadbelcher with silver, silver the eye sockets, dry brush the bases ochre
  4. Agrax the robes, nuln oil everything else except swords and visors, which will use gem paint blue for power swords, gem paint red for daemon weapons, and gem paint green for force swords and psychic fire.
  5. add some flock to the bases.
    In terms of the units, I’m currently looking at using the Codex Astartes for the Fallen, as they are proper marines not like the Chaos Marines in the Dark Angels:
    Terminator Lord/Captain, with power sword/murder sword and combimelta.
    2 Sorcerers/Librarian with force sword and bolt pistol
    Terminator Squad with power fists, one heavy flamer, and sarge with power sword.
    Terminator Squad with powerfists, 1 chain fist, one assault cannon, sarge with power sword.
    2 5 man units of SM/CSM with sergeant with power fist and plasma pistol, 3 bolters, 1 plasma gun
    1 5 man unit of SM/CSM with sergeant with chainsword and plasma pistol, 3 bolters, 1 plasma gun
    1 command squad/chosen unit
    1 5 man Raptors/Assault Squad with sarge with lightning claws, 3 bolt pistols and chainswords, 1 flamer
    1 5 man unit of havocs/devastators with heavy bolters
    1 5 man unit of havocs/devastators with las cannons and missile launchers
    1 Helbrute
    1 Chaos Dreadnought with plasma cannon and power scourge – The Angel of Blades
      I haven’t got much in the way of vehicles sorted out, though I think I’ll have to add some rhinos and maybe a land raider in black.  I

‘ll magnetise the icons and use them with Deathwatch too.  

    I might also look at adding cypher as an inquisitor, and a deathwatch kill team all with DA plates just for fun.